“Keep it opaque,” goes the refrain of Remi Russin’s new single “Most People Kill Plants,” and, for the most part, Russin does. But there’s a deep backstory behind the song, beginning with the couplet: “I gave notice / I did my mourning on the front end.“ That notice-giving is literal. Russin works in social services and, a while back, they quit their job. But the process grew drawn out and…well, I’ll let Russin tell it. You’ll see where the “mourning on the front end” bit comes in too.
Babehoven – Bad Week
No, indie-pop duo Babehoven “Bad Week” isn’t a play on R.E.M.’s “Bad Day.” “Bad Week” is a moving electro-shoegaze dirge about fighting through depression. As singer Maya Bon sings, “It’s hard to talk about it being a bad week / When it’s been a bad week / For so many weeks now.” She elaborated:
Black Fly – Sign 2
Over a propulsive synth hook that recalls M83’s “Midnight City,” Black Fly’s Joseph Rittling delivers a catchy electro-post-punk song that grows and grows into something epic.
boys cruise – The Owls
On “The Owls,” punk trio boys cruise deliver an homage to Twin Peaks twice as loud as anything David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti put on the soundtrack. Read the lyrics at Bandcamp if you can’t make ’em out through the distortion to see how many Peaks references you can catch (with a side of Edgar Allen Poe thrown in for good measure).
Aspetuck – Rescue Mission
Aspetuck (aka. Griff Fulton)’s bio says his music was inspired by immersing himself in the nightlife of New York and Los Angeles. Yet now he lives near where he grew up in rural Vermont, an area not exactly known for its club scene. Somehow I feel like that dichotomy comes across in “Rescue Mission.” You can imagine it playing on a dance floor somewhere, but it works equally well just sitting at home and vibing out.
Clever Girls’ “Stonewall” is not literally about the Stonewall riots. The lyrics are pretty explicitly about a romantic partner stonewalling you. It’s “stonewall” as a verb, not a proper noun. But the title’s resonance with an important moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is presumably no accident. The band’s entire upcoming album Constellations was partly inspired by frontperson Diane Jean’s coming out as queer and gender-nonconforming.
For a minute there, the band Julia Caesar was hotly tipped to be Vermont’s next nationally-known musical export. But it wasn’t to be. After one terrific EP (and a recorded-but-never-released album), the group disbanded and frontperson Katy Hellman moved to Philadelphia.
Well, now Hellman is back in Vermont, and her new band Ruby picks up where Julia Caesar left off. When touring resumes, maybe they’ll be the group to break through on the national stage. Ruby describes themselves as “apocalypse folk rock,” but from the early evidence the sound leans more dream-pop with shades of Mazzy Star and Cocteau Twins (some live stuff is folkier).
I’m a sucker for a concept album. From Ziggy Stardust to Tommy, they began primarily the realm of classic rock (back before it was “classic”), but exist in pretty much every genre now, from electronic music to hip-hop. Hell, my favorite record of last year was a doom-metal concept album.
One genre that could use more concept albums, though, is new wave. Prolific Vermont-based artist Madaila obliges with the new Good Lord Nancy, which also dips into more traditionally concept album-friendly genres like rock and Americana. It’s only eight tracks – pretty short for a concept album – but it packs a lot into a quick runtime.
A2VT – I’m a Soul Survivor
A2VT’s new single blends the group’s trademark sounds of Afropop, R&B, and hip-hop with a surprising twist: ’80s metal. After three extremely catchy minutes of singing and rapping, an epic guitar solo bursts forth by an actual ’80s-metal vet, Andre Maquera of 8084. It reminds of that time Kirk Hammett guested on a K’naan song, in the best way possible.
Kyle Woolard does not live in Iceland. He is not from Iceland. But I’m a huge fan of Icelandic music and everything about Woolard’s sound (intricate, angelic, slightly off-kilter folk-pop) and presentation (everything about that press photo) to me screams “Iceland.”
Adam Rabin – Winter Song
Prog-rock veteran Adam Rabin’s “Winter Song” sounds pure Jethro Tull. All that’s missing is a flute solo. Oh, wait – there it is.